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The Daily Paradox

The Daily Paradox: Resolution for 2024

Millions of people face a suffering, searing, tortuous New Year. The world’s problems are too frequently listed to repeat here. The unnecessary deaths of so many, including children who have not even begun to enjoy life, is a wickedness the world does not need. The profligacy of resource use for destruction instead of for building will be a misery for generations to come. The speed of life is out of control causing us to appreciate less – and less rewardingly – in order to reach for the next nirvana. When it comes it still lacks what we think we want.

New Year is not about retreat, it is about advance but we are unclear about our destination. We may believe it is something beyond this world but we don’t know. All we know for sure is that we are here, now, with an abundance of goodness to draw on, myriads of lovely people to help us and opportunities galore to make of it what we will, within the bounds of the possible and of fortune. To ignore this in search of something better, to consider it passé because it can be superseded by the new, to fail to appreciate the glory in the simplest of things is a self-harm humans can no longer afford to make.

Our resolutions are usually made in good faith. To solve the world’s problems is a nice idea but remains a collective not just an individual job. There is one resolve we can all make, carry out and, if we do so, know that it will at least contribute to other people as well as to ourselves. That is the resolution to appreciate every good thing, every enchanting moment, every beautiful connection with someone else that comes into our life.

In 1939, when WWII was breaking out and I was seven years old, Richard Llewellyn published a novel of the experiences of a Welsh youth growing up in a mining village. His language is delightful, his concept of appreciation more vivid than you will find in most other books. At one point he has his first love with his girl on the Welsh hillside near his home. I suppose it was a summer evening with the buzz of bees on their flight back to the hive. The cattle were probably gently lowing with that warming, end-of-day double bass they use to express a comfortably digested grazing and a readiness for sleep. The leaves on the trees were still, but for the softest rustling.

Five words vividly expressed his appreciation – ‘How green was my valley’.

We have many moments when our mind and hearing see beauty, and frequent opportunities for our heart to experience a love of someone or something. Can we dedicate the New Year to appreciating these gifts and, whether or not we have someone eternal to thank for them, can we, in any case, thank our neighbour.

May all your valleys in 2024 be as green as Richard’s.

Good morning
John Bittleston

1 January 2024